Geneva College
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Geneva's growing honors program has benefited students such as Mandi Stern '07, who received her bachelor's degree in English education this May and will begin her first year teaching junior high this fall. 

Geneva’s honors program is getting serious about scholarship—and about community.

Since its inception in 1993, the Geneva College Honors Program—under the direction of Dr. David Kuhns—has been aimed at fostering an environment conducive to serious scholarship. The four-year program provides participants extra opportunities including supplemental book discussions, added components in pre-existing courses, tickets to cultural events and the culmination of their hard work: senior research projects.

The most recent round of honors presentations demonstrated the in-depth study of the students who opt to fulfill the program’s requirements. The titles give a hint of the serious work involved. Take “The ‘Fantastic World of Commodities:’ Christopher Lasch, Radical Orthodoxy, and the Modern Collapse of the Self” or “Activity Studies of á-Chymotrypsin in Various Alcohol Media”, for example.

But an honors student’s education does not stop at the door of the classroom or the keyboard of a PC. Kuhns and others have realized that another major component of learning is the learning community itself. That understanding has led to a new opportunity—living arrangements where an entire dormitory floor is dedicated to students participating in the honors program. The idea is for students to enjoy sharing living and study space, where discussion extends past the classroom. The honors program has also been redesigned with a specific Freshman Honors Program, Sophomore Honors Program and Young Scholars Program for juniors.

“The central impetus, or guiding principle, in our redesign is the idea of a learning community,” Kuhns says. “So far, the feedback has been very positive.”

Geneva’s 2007 valedictorian, Kalyn Robel, has watched the program grow and says she believes community living is great for students’ development.

“All these things are working together to create a healthier, richer and community-focused experience for the students,” Robel says. Her excitement has prompted her younger sister to participate as well. Reflecting on her first year as an honors student, Jacqueline Robel describes it as an opportunity that “developed great community, encouraged excitement about learning and made [her] freshman experience just incredible.”

A total of 55 Geneva students currently participate in the Geneva Honors Program.

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